When someone is referred to as a “productive” person, the first picture which comes to mind is someone who is constantly busy. To be more precise, the definition of a productive person is someone who can accomplish many tasks in a short length of time. So yes, a productive person can be synonymous with a busy person but more importantly, a productive person understands how to manage their time and resources. With practice and the right tools, being productive can become a new form of normal.
In this article, I will be highlighting various ways to be productive both at home and in the workplace. Many of the concepts are similar and easy to follow. I will list each one, then offer a brief explanation right away. Before I continue, I would like to make a few things clear:
Being Productive in the Home
1) Make a list
Right away in the morning, make a list of the day’s tasks. Decide which are the most important and focus on those first. Cross off each item as it is finished.
2) Ask for help!
If housework is overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Websites such as Angie’s List offer contact information and reviews on cleaners and professional organizers.
3) Take breaks!
As the old saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Focusing too long on a task can lead to frustration and in turn, mistakes. Walk away for five minutes. Stretch, walk around the block, turn on relaxing music, drink that leftover coffee from this morning. Come back to the task with a refreshed mind and more energy.
4) Get up early
For anyone, sleeping in can become a vicious cycle. Unfortunately, this also leads to rushing through the rest of the day and feeling as though nothing has been accomplished. Get up early before the rest of the household. Eat a good breakfast. Use the quiet of the morning to make a list of the day’s tasks. Meditate, journal, or read. Take advantage of being alone and take a shower, prepare for the rest of the day. The entire day will feel more relaxed.
5) Take advantage of evening hours
After a long day at work, it becomes so easy to sprawl out in bed or on the couch in front of Netflix. Suddenly, the cares of the day catch up and it becomes impossible to stay awake. While everyone deserves a break to watch a movie, put it off until a little later. Accomplish one or two more tasks right after getting home from the office. It’ll be one less thing to do in the morning.
6) Establish a regular routine
This is possibly the most important step on this list. Establishing a routine can ensure that a day runs smoothly. It becomes easier to go about the day already knowing what to expect and at what time everything will happen. With an established pattern, the day’s tasks are less overwhelming and easier to complete.
Being Productive in the Workplace
1) Make a list
Tasks in the workplace often multiply faster than chores in the home. A to-do list from work can be overwhelming, so this option has another step: cut the list in half! While may seem counterproductive, it offers an opportunity to evaluate the day’s most important tasks. There are only so many hours in a workplace setting; completing a long list is not always feasible.
2) DO NOT MULTI-TASK
Multi-tasking gives a lovely impression of being productive but can often lead to being less productive and more overwhelmed. Stick to one thing at a time. Focusing on several things at once leads to more frustrations, more mistakes, and more work later.
3) Establish a regular routine
It’s okay to begin the day by checking messages and emails but scrolling through an inbox or wading through papers becomes time consuming. Set a time to check emails and make phone calls, then stick to the scheduled time. In addition, include breaks into the routine of the day. It is important to get up, walk away from the computer, and stretch. Blood flow will improve as will concentration.
4) Tackle important or difficult problems in the morning
Rather than putting off the dreaded task until after lunch, accomplish it right away. The rest of the day will flow easier without the dread of beginning a project later in the afternoon with no time to finish.
5) Get up early
Just like being productive at home, being productive at work starts with a positive morning. Get up earlier than normal. Use the time to read, journal, meditate, or prepare for the day. Go for a brisk walk, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. Eat a good breakfast, engage in relaxing breathing.
6) Re-evaluate emails
While email was created to make communications easier, it often takes up too much time. Many people simply copy and paste, or CC everyone in the office into a message. This leads to more time wasting as more and more people get stuck in a loop of a never-ending message chain. Focus on the intended recipient and the message to be sent. When feasible, offer phone calls rather than spending time emailing back and forth throughout the day.
7) The 80/20 Rule
This rule, found in Forbes Magazine, states that 20% of work done in the workplace will lead to an 80% success rate. In other words, a smaller portion of work done during the day will lead to a larger portion of how successful a person is. If a day is spent working on menial tasks, there will be no greater success later. When a day is spent focusing on projects and finishing tasks before deadlines, the future success rate is greater.
Keep Going: Staying Motivated
The afore mentioned habits are certainly easy to begin, but often difficult to maintain. It becomes easy to get discouraged and consider giving up. Don’t give in to that temptation! Being a more productive person does mean making changes, and some of those changes can be more challenging than others. Here are some helpful tips to remain motivated and stay productive:
1) Meditate on the rewards of being productive
This is popular among athletes, who will quietly visualize themselves winning a game or finishing a race. Look into the mind’s eye, see the finished task, enjoy the coming rewards.
2) Break the tasks into chunks
Many college students utilize this as a popular study method, giving themselves small rewards when they complete a selection of chapters in a reading. The focus remains on the end goal and helps the user remain motivated with positive conditioning.
3) Create at least two or three alternate plans
When planning a task, acknowledge that mistakes will happen. Perhaps one plan will not work; find a way to put another strategy in place if that happens. It is better to be prepared for every occurrence than to be disappointed and lose motivation.
4) Write out the reason(s) to become more productive
Studies have shown that there is a definite link between how well a person recalls facts and how often they write it down. This is why students are encouraged to take notes (and copy those notes again) in each class; to help the brain retain information. If the goals and reasons for changing habits are written down in pen, the human mind sees it almost as being set in stone. Losing motivation becomes less likely when the reasons behind positive changes are set out to be seen daily.